The following post is from my great long time friend Rein. We grew up a street away from each other and share Estonian heritage. Rein is a teacher and has a way of brightening up any space that he enters. He is loud, full of love, and an all around pleasure to be around. I'm so grateful that he stepped up to join me and help in the beginning. He put many solid hours into planning and making this canoe trip happen. His family and Duddy (girlfriend) were also instrumental in making the first weeks a success. I'm so grateful. Rein was with me in Tofino four months prior to the start date when I decided I wouldn't delay this dream any longer and would take the risk in starting when we did. I saw the potential for it to never happen if I didn't start asap. I'm glad I made that choice and that Rein was with me to support it. Perfect. Thank you Rein.
Wow. How to sum up 3 weeks in a canoe with a real life super human? I’ve known Markus for decades, and have been on many adventures with him (ironically, actually including capsizing in a canoe on the Bow River), so I knew what kinda fun I was getting up to. It was a helluva experience that is hard to put into words, but I’ll try to paint a picture of what a typical day out there on Lake Ontario and the Trent-Severn Waterway, and camping out at the Locks along the way, was like. Here is a day in the life Markus and Rein in a canoe.
6:30 a.m. Wake up to the sounds of waves crashing right outside of our tent…followed by Markus reminding me that he told me that the tent was too close to the shore.
7:30 a.m. Cook up a pot of delicious morning gruel. Morning Gruel = Paddlin’ Fuel.
8:30 a.m. As we pack up our camp for a day of paddling, make sure that the Lockmasters that are arriving for the day don’t charge us for camping at the Lock site. 90% of the time, we’re all good.
9:00 a.m. Push off for a day of paddlin’! …right smack dab into 25-30 km/h head winds…every…single…day…
10:00 a.m. Keep on paddlin’. Lose a bet with Markus (details of bet are on a need-to-know basis) and in doing so lose my freedom to complain about the ceaseless headwinds and to verbalize my guestimates of the distances of future destinations and landmarks.
11:00 a.m. Keep on paddlin’. Become a liiiiiil’ bit grumpy (on account of not being able to vent about the cursed headwinds). Markus asks if I’ve been proactive about drinking and snacking. Admit I haven’t. Have some water and snacks. Feel better. (Paddlin’ Pro Tip = when you’re on grueling endeavours like this, eat before you’re hungry, and drink hydrate before you’re thirsty!)
12:00 p.m. Keep on paddlin’. Switch-it-UP!
1:00 p.m. Keep on paddlin’. Discuss some fun videos (usually involving dancing) that we can produce and share with our booming fan base! (Check them all out on the YouTube channel!)
2:30 p.m. Keep on paddlin’. Switch-it-UP!
3:30 p.m. OMG! Winds shift around to our backs! We put up our super sweet make-shift sail, kick up our feet up and just crruuuuuuuuiiisse!
5:30 p.m. Begin our final push of the day to get to a Lock before it closes. If we don’t make it, we simply call ahead to the Lock to make sure that they leave a bathroom key for us, or give us the pin code for the padlock.
6:30 p.m. Begin to set up our camp on one of the sprawling lawns of the Lock. For me, this includes rigging up a bag with some string to suspend in the water. In the bag will go my nightly ration of one can of beer, and the hope is that the water is cold enough to cool my beer off. Every night I try to convince myself that this is a worthwhile practice, but deep down, I know I’ll be drinking warm beer.
7:30 p.m. Cook up our dinner gruel. Dinner Gruel = Paddlin’ Fuel
8:30 p.m. Dusk approaches. And when the sun goes down, out come the bugs. Mosquitoes. Millions of them. I’ve grown up spending summers at my cottage, and have even braved tree planting in central BC, so I’m no stranger to mosquitoes. I was, however, stunned at the number of bugs at our campsites at the Locks. It’s too early to pile into our 6’ x 3’ tent, so Markus and I retreat to the Lock Station bathroom, to charge our phones and listen to music. Markus catches up on Routes of Change social media stuff.
10:00 p.m. Markus and I crawl into our “cozy” 6’ by 3’ tent for the night. This has to be a very calculated and coordinated activity, so as not to let any mossies in with us! Waking up in the morning to the sight of engorged mosquitos, plump full of your blood, resting contentedly on the inside of your tent is not a great way to start a day.
10:30 p.m. Try, in vain, to read, but just can’t quite get into a comfortable enough position (seeing as the two of us crammed into a 6’ by 3’ tent.
~11:00 p.m. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! Darn it! Markus beats me to it, and begins to snore…like a banshee! My escape to slumber may now be a little rockier.
3:30 a.m. Wake up to scurrying and rummaging sounds outside our tent. Proceed to chase a family of aggressive raccoons away from our gear. (Camping Pro Tip: Use some canoe lines as a whip to lash out at the perpetrators, while employing a backpack as a shield against their counter attacks). Upon inspection in the morning, it appears one of them managed to rip open our Vega Protein Powder. We continue to use it anyways, and henceforth refer to it as the Racoon Powder.
It was with mixed emotions that after 3 weeks, I passed on the torch to Dave, and bid Markus farewell. I was happy to see my Duddy and my family, and ready to sleep in a real bed again. But it was also tough to say good bye to Markus, not knowing when (or where) in the world I will see him again, to join him for another leg of his adventure. After those 3 weeks, it is hard to imagine keeping this lifestyle up for 5 full years. I now have an appreciation for the magnitude of this undertaking that Markus has committed to. Markus is truly a remarkable person, on an incredible journey, and he wants you to be a part of it!
It was always a huge treat along our way to have people come by and hang out with us, and it was good for us to each get some company besides our own. Those were probably my favourite parts of the trip. I implore everyone reading this to take the plunge and go tag along with Markus on his journey! He’ll be on it for 5 years, you’ve got lots of time to plan…if you’re a “planny” kinda person. If you’re not, just book a flight to wherever he’s at! Markus will make sure that you experience a true adventure! I am looking forward to my next leg of the trip with him!